I've never been to Spring Training. I wanted to make the trip this year, but couldn't really find anyone to go with and didn't have the gumption or disposable income to go down by myself as a strictly blog-related solo adventure. But I'm sure it would be a lot of fun.
Whether you are in Florida or Arizona this time of year, you are treated to a unique kind of baseball experience. As a fan you're much closer to the action and you get to see a lot of the team's prospects who will be distributed throughout the farm system when the season rolls around. You're there for the batting practice and long toss and all the other stuff that you don't usually get to see from April - October, especially from your couch. The weather is obviously much nicer than it is here in the Northeast which a considerable benefit after being subjected to three months of temperatures around or below freezing. Blog friends Kevin Kaduk and Craig Calcaterra both made the most out of their time hopping around the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues and produced some great material when they were down there.
So Spring Training is cool. It's different. But no one would actually say that it's better than the regular season. Would they?
Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Chimelis of MassLive.com would:
Once these teams head north, the air will be deflated out of my baseball balloon. In July, when others are setting their watches to the trade deadline, I will long for the carefree days of March, when the sport was at its most special and most pure.
Special? Yes, it's different than the regular season. Pure? Sure, if you're referring to the fact that it's not clouded by things like "competition", "excitement" and "anyone actually giving a shit". Being 8 years old was "carefree" and "special" and "pure", but it also sucked because you had no money, couldn't drive a car, your parents told you when you had to go to bed and no one really listened to what you had to say.
1. The ballparks. Not only are they cozy, they are named for people who have evidently done something worthwhile in their communities... It's much better than visiting stadiums named for multi-national corporations that were in the news when the nation's economy started going down the port-a-potty.
You get to see Major League players in what is typically a minor league setting, that's cool. But I assume you are referring to Citi Field? Well, the Mets just renamed their Spring Training facility "Digital Domain Park". I'm sure Mr. Domain has done some fantastic work in the Port St. Lucie area.
2. When a slugger hits a 440-foot homer, we can say it's because the pitcher was a 19-year-old kid who was buying a tux for his prom last year, not because the hitter was juiced.
Is that what you say when a person hits a massive home run, Ron? That they are "juiced"? I usually say something like "Wow, that was a bomb". Instead of trying to divine whether or not a player is taking performance enhancing drugs based on the distance of their home runs, I would recommend just trying to enjoy the game all year round.
3. The fans are universally nice. Most patrons, including those who line up at 8 a.m. to see what tickets are available, are either living on retirement money or on vacation.
Well... good for them? I don't attend baseball games to interact with courteous people. I go to see baseball players play baseball. And I definitely don't care how nice the people at the park are if I'm watching at home.
4. Lineups where the lowest uniform number is 67. I'd love the scorecard concession for these games.
If I wanted to watch a bunch of minor leaguers play, I'd watch a minor league game.
5. Parking for $5.
It's Florida and Arizona, parking should be free. In New York, thanks to the subway and the Metro North you don't even have to drive. You can even park your bike at Yankee Stadium now! What about the cheaper tickets and concessions? Sorry folks, Ron's in the press box so he doesn't care about what might matter to you the reader/fan. THIS IS RON'S LIST, SUCKERS!
6. Common sense. The umpires called a Red Sox-Astros game in the eighth inning Sunday after a 16-minute rain delay.
Common sense? Well in the regular season, it's sort of important that everyone plays the same amount of games, you know, for the playoffs and stuff. If it rains, they aren't just going to call it quits because the beat writers want to go home.
7. Fans who gloat about the Florida weather. This really annoyed me at first, but now I find it rather entertaining.
Nothing could be more relevant to a game of baseball than the fans talking about the weather. And everyone loves repetitive gloating about something they are not in any way responsible for!
8. Parking for $5. So good, I'm listing it twice.
It's much more likely that you couldn't think of another flimsy point to support your weak premise and instead of billing the piece as "9 things...", you copped out and repeated yourself.
9. The delightful contradiction over how much performance matters.
This is actually the worst part, by far, about Spring Training.
10. Interleague games that don't offend purists' sensibilities, split-squad games, games against Northeastern University and Boston College. You don't get this variety once the real games start.
There are plenty of good reasons that you don't get split-squad games against college teams when the regular season starts. No one wants that kind of "variety". If you want to see Bahston Cawledge and Nawtheastahn, then go down to fackin' Chestnut Hill.
I get what Ron is trying to get at here. He had a good time down in Florida and doesn't mind mailing in a hacky column proving just that. The problem is that most of his readers likely didn't go down to Florida and don't give a shit about the $5 parking, the nice weather, friendly people, or the ballpark names. They just want the season to start and the games to matter.